The EU wants smartphones to have easily replaceable batteries

LG V20
LG V20 (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The EU is working on a new proposal aimed at reducing e-waste in the region.
  • It will require smartphone manufacturers to make their devices more easily user-replaceable to extend device longevity. OEMs will also be required to make parts available.
  • The full proposal will be released in mid-March.

The EU is working on a proposal to enforce easier smartphone battery replacements on phones sold in the region, as reported by Dutch paper Het Financieele Dagblad (via XDA Developers). One of the most common concerns of smartphone users is battery life, and poor battery life often prompts users to rapidly replaced a smartphone that may otherwise be performing decently enough. After all, your phone is only as good as it can stay powered on, otherwise, it's just a pretty brick.

The EU hopes this proposal will help reduce e-waste as easier battery replacements will make it so that customers will hold on to phones longer, even after a standard two year contract period. The proposal will force manufacturers to make sure that replacement parts are made easily available by OEMs, and that unsold items would be re-used and recycled.

This new proposal comes after an EU decision to regulate the use of USB-C on smartphones for the same motives, to reduce e-waste and encourage reuse of chargers and connectors.

Commenting on that decision, Android Central's Phillip Bene pointed out some flaws with it:

Companies aren't using Micro-USB or other proprietary connectors simply because they don't care about consumers ... they're using it because it's either less expensive to implement, better for their hardware design, continues to build on their ecosystem of existing products, or some combination of the three. Phones with USB-C are more expensive to make than Micro-USB. And in the case of Apple, it could lead to an unfathomable amount of devices being transitioned to a new port before the company intended to do so.

Much like with the Lightning cable, while replaceable batteries may lead to less waste, there are benefits to them like water and dust resistance. Both of these features can be said to help customers keep their phones longer by keeping them safer while in active use. Perhaps the Commission will push for cheaper or even free replacements included as part of the warranty as an alternative to replaceable backs.

The proposal will be presented in mid-March, and we'll have a much better idea of what the bloc is thinking then.

The EU may push iPhones to adopt the USB-C that Androids prefer

Michael Allison
  • Good to hear. Someone had to do something about this, and let's face it, it want going to be the US.
  • If your battery isn't working properly at the end of the 2 years of legal warranty, use that warranty to have it replaced as it is covered. As for the proposal, it'll only lead to OEMs increasing even more the already ridiculous price of smartphones as they'll have to now charge enough to make up for the even longer upgrade cycles.
    People are already not buying because they're not offered phones they want (it's all oversized, overpriced tennis tables). If you give them the tools to keep their phones for 5 or 6 years, it'll be even worse.
    That'll lead to a slow down in European economy as people will consume less and therefore pay less VAT, which means less State funds for other things. Making phones last longer than the normal 2 year cycle is all very nice on paper until you think of the consequences of that.
  • Except batteries are subject to wear and not covered beyond 6 months of warranty.
  • This is the truth.
  • Yes, more consumption is what we need, more waste, more resources, kill the planet faster.
  • What a tangled web we weave. The LG G5 was a "modular" phone that had a replaceable battery and was very easy device to work on. It was a disaster device for LG that year. I'm all for making devices easier to work on with less waste, but there are trade offs such as water/dust proofing and overall durability. I think this is another case of someone trying to do the right thing, but making it more about the feel good aspect, vs. understanding the goal. Modular phones haven't caught on for good reason.
  • There is the possibility to have a removable battery and some form of water resistance such as the Galaxy S5, though it didn't do so well.
  • I get the feeling that people would rather have a removable battery than a phone with water resistance. I think the last phone to come out with a removable battery and water resistance was the Samsung Galaxy S5. That phone was also ridiculed because of its design. I'm not sure I would want to go back to having a removable battery. Unless there is a way to have a removable battery, keep the water resistance and have a great design, I'd prefer the water resistance if I could only keep one of the two.
  • I loved being able to swap out a battery and be back to 100% charge in seconds with my S4 and LG G4. As phones become increasingly more powerful, the need to replace them every two years is definitely going to decrease, so this just makes sense.
  • I much prefer water resistance to a removal battery. I'm over the removal battery and I never keep my phones more than 2 and a half to three years. Just as a side comment...I always suspected that law enforcement had a hand in the removal battery trend. We can never shut our phones down if we can't remove the battery. The police heavily use cellphone data to place suspects in the area of a crime.
  • Wrong, when you power your phone off it stops recording where you are. It for sure won't ping on a cell tower which is how police find out the location of a person. Luckily criminals are stupid, this helps them get caught all the time.
  • Would take a removable battery over water proofing any day. My current Motorola G4+ is over 4 years old and the battery life is starting to get shorter and has no water resistance as it is. Would love to buy another battery and just pop it in as we did years ago.
  • I'd rather have a removable battery than a high ip rating. Not cos I want to be one of those weirdos that carry spare batteries in their pockets and swap once or twice a day but so I can keep the phone having maximum battery life a year down the line when it's already degraded without having to buy a whole new phone
  • Nice! I wish I was lucky enough to enjoy the protections EU consumers do...and also the prices they pay monthly for their telecom bills!!!
  • Now include easy screen replacement and we're golden.